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Non-traditional Families: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about non-traditional families?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to non-traditional families. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about non-traditional families.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about non-traditional families, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like It’s Not Your Fault, Koko Bear to popular sellers like Anne of Green Gables (Puffin in Bloom) to some of our favorite hidden gems like Wolfie the Bunny.

We hope this list of kids books about non-traditional families can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

Top 10 Books About Non-traditional Families

#1
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Anne of Green Gables (Puffin in Bloom)
Written by L.M. Montgomery
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
Puffin in Bloom is a charming assortment of classic novels with coming-of-age themes, aimed at the young reader. Bond, a stationary artist with Rifle Paper Co. renowned for her floral patterns, puts her signature touch on the covers in this line, because just as a flower blossoms, a young child comes into her own.
#2
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Bunny Roo, I Love You
Written by Melissa Marr & illustrated by Teagan White
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2
A warm and tender welcome to the world! In a gorgeous picture book that’s playfully sweet and visually captivating, New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr and talented new illustrator Teagan White celebrate the many ways parents make their new babies feel at home. The world can seem like a big, bewildering place for new babies—fortunately, their mamas know just how to soothe and comfort them. Through enchanting scenes portraying all kinds of mama animals looking out for their little ones, the mother in this story reassures her baby, and young children everywhere, that their caretakers will always love them and keep them safe. This beautiful picture book has the feel of a classic and its heartwarming premise should make it a family favorite.
#3
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The Marvelous Magic of Miss Mabel
Written & illustrated by Natasha Lowe
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Penderwicks meets Edward Eager in this charming coming of age tale about a young witch found in a flowerpot who’s on a journey to discover her roots. The morning Nora Ratcliff finds a baby in the flowerpot on her front steps her life changes forever. She had always wanted a child, but after her husband passed away, Nora never thought she would have one, but her flowerpot child was a miracle and she decided to name her Mabel. As Mabel grew up, she showed a distinct talent for magic. When Mabel is accepted to the prestigious witch school, Ruthersfield Academy, she excels at the magic curriculum but is constantly in trouble for experimenting and inventing her own potions. One day she is asked to write a paper on her magical roots and discovers the truth about her birth after a mean classmate blurts out what everyone seems to know except Mabel. Mabel is shocked but the revelation does explain a lot. In rebellion, Mabel changes her name to Magnolia and tries to understand why she was left in the flowerpot and who her birth family might be. Will Mabel find the answers she’s looking for—or will she discover that families are people who love each other and look after each other and that’s most important of all.
#4
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Great Dog
Written by Davide Cali & illustrated by Miguel Tanco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
The age-old question of "what will I be when I grow up" gets a hilarious twist in this stylish and clever story. A pup and his father contemplate his grand future while looking at other Great Dogs in their family. Will he be a marathon runner like Uncle Tibor, the fastest dog in the family? Will he be an astronaut like Aunt Yuki, who reached for the stars? Or maybe a teacher like Uncle Scooter, respected by all? No matter what, says his father, he will be a GREAT dog!
#5
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Three Pennies
Written & illustrated by Melanie Crowder
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
A girl in foster care tries to find her birth mother before she loses her forever in this “tender tale” (School Library Journal, starred review) about last chances and new opportunities. For a kid bouncing from foster home to foster home, The Book of Changes is the perfect companion. That’s why Marin carries three pennies and a pocket-sized I Ching with her everywhere she goes. Yet when everything in her life suddenly starts changing—like landing in a foster home that feels like somewhere she could stay, maybe forever—the pennies don’t have any answers for her. Marin is positive that all the wrongs in her life will be made right if only she can find her birth mother and convince her that they belong together. Marin is close, oh so close—until she gets some unwelcome news and her resolve, like the uneasy earth far beneath the city of San Francisco, is shaken
#6
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Wolfie the Bunny
Written by Ame Dyckman & illustrated by Zachariah OHora
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Families of all kinds will delight in this sweet tale of new babies, sibling rivalry, bravery, unconditional love...and veggies! The Bunny family has adopted a wolf son, and daughter Dot is the only one who realizes Wolfie can--and might--eat them all up! Dot tries to get through to her parents, but they are too smitten to listen. A new brother takes getting used to, and when (in a twist of fate) it's Wolfie who's threatened, can Dot save the day?
#7
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Bear Likes Jam
Written & illustrated by Ciara Gavin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
In their blended family, Mama Duck worries when Bear eats too much jam, but when the ducklings play a game with their vegetables, Bear starts to eat the strange green things on his plate.
#8
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Five Sisters
Written by Stephanie Campisi & illustrated by Madalina Andronic
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8
When a great white oak gifts an old man a branch imbued with magic, he carves five wooden matryoshka dolls, “each smaller than the last.” The wooden dolls take on a life of their own as they frolic from one season to the next, bringing the old man and his wife a joy they had always longed for. Beautiful verse and stunning, traditional illustrations full of woodland creatures and playfully painted matryoshka dolls explore a tale of heartache, hope, and love.
#9
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Daddy Honk Honk!
Written & illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
An arctic fox adopts a baby goose in this heartwarming read-aloud perfect for dads and their little ones When Aput the fox finds an abandoned goose egg, he has no idea what’s in store for him. He doesn’t know anything about babies and he certainly doesn’t know what to do when the gosling hatches and mistakes him for its daddy. So he decides to find the gosling a home. But with each page turn, Aput learns more about caring for a baby and, with a little help from his friends, he discovers what a baby needs most is love.
#10
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The Invisible String
Written by Patrice Karst & illustrated by Geoff Stevenson
Thoughts from The Goodfather
I love the lesson shared by this book. I especially love how well the story of the String works literally, like the "tugs" that we feel for each other.
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
This sweet story is such a sweet read to help little ones realize that they're connected to the ones they love, even when they're not nearby. Whether that's because a family member passed away, or maybe the child is starting their first day of school, this one will bring comfort and all the good feelings!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Picture book for children 4-8 years of age. A simple story that reminds children they are never truly alone. People who love each other are connected by an invisible string made of love.
Table of Contents
Scroll to books about Non-traditional Families and...

Books About Non-traditional Families and Adoption

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Anne of Green Gables (Puffin in Bloom)
Written by L.M. Montgomery
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
Puffin in Bloom is a charming assortment of classic novels with coming-of-age themes, aimed at the young reader. Bond, a stationary artist with Rifle Paper Co. renowned for her floral patterns, puts her signature touch on the covers in this line, because just as a flower blossoms, a young child comes into her own.
Add to list
Bunny Roo, I Love You
Written by Melissa Marr & illustrated by Teagan White
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2
A warm and tender welcome to the world! In a gorgeous picture book that’s playfully sweet and visually captivating, New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr and talented new illustrator Teagan White celebrate the many ways parents make their new babies feel at home. The world can seem like a big, bewildering place for new babies—fortunately, their mamas know just how to soothe and comfort them. Through enchanting scenes portraying all kinds of mama animals looking out for their little ones, the mother in this story reassures her baby, and young children everywhere, that their caretakers will always love them and keep them safe. This beautiful picture book has the feel of a classic and its heartwarming premise should make it a family favorite.
Add to list
The Marvelous Magic of Miss Mabel
Written & illustrated by Natasha Lowe
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Penderwicks meets Edward Eager in this charming coming of age tale about a young witch found in a flowerpot who’s on a journey to discover her roots. The morning Nora Ratcliff finds a baby in the flowerpot on her front steps her life changes forever. She had always wanted a child, but after her husband passed away, Nora never thought she would have one, but her flowerpot child was a miracle and she decided to name her Mabel. As Mabel grew up, she showed a distinct talent for magic. When Mabel is accepted to the prestigious witch school, Ruthersfield Academy, she excels at the magic curriculum but is constantly in trouble for experimenting and inventing her own potions. One day she is asked to write a paper on her magical roots and discovers the truth about her birth after a mean classmate blurts out what everyone seems to know except Mabel. Mabel is shocked but the revelation does explain a lot. In rebellion, Mabel changes her name to Magnolia and tries to understand why she was left in the flowerpot and who her birth family might be. Will Mabel find the answers she’s looking for—or will she discover that families are people who love each other and look after each other and that’s most important of all.
Honorable Mentions
Great Dog book
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Three Pennies book
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Wolfie the Bunny book
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Five Sisters book
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  1. Great Dog - The age-old question of “what will I be when I grow up” gets a hilarious twist in this stylish and clever story. A pup and his father contemplate his grand future while looking at other Great Dogs in their family. Will he be a marathon runner like Uncle Tibor, the fastest dog in the family? Will he be an astronaut like Aunt Yuki, who reached for the stars? Or maybe a teacher like Uncle Scooter, respected by all? No matter what, says his father, he will be a GREAT dog!

  2. Three Pennies - A girl in foster care tries to find her birth mother before she loses her forever in this “tender tale” (School Library Journal, starred review) about last chances and new opportunities. For a kid bouncing from foster home to foster home, The Book of Changes is the perfect companion. That’s why Marin carries three pennies and a pocket-sized I Ching with her everywhere she goes. Yet when everything in her life suddenly starts changing—like landing in a foster home that feels like somewhere she could stay, maybe forever—the pennies don’t have any answers for her. Marin is positive that all the wrongs in her life will be made right if only she can find her birth mother and convince her that they belong together. Marin is close, oh so close—until she gets some unwelcome news and her resolve, like the uneasy earth far beneath the city of San Francisco, is shaken

  3. Wolfie the Bunny - Families of all kinds will delight in this sweet tale of new babies, sibling rivalry, bravery, unconditional love…and veggies! The Bunny family has adopted a wolf son, and daughter Dot is the only one who realizes Wolfie can—and might—eat them all up! Dot tries to get through to her parents, but they are too smitten to listen. A new brother takes getting used to, and when (in a twist of fate) it’s Wolfie who’s threatened, can Dot save the day?

  4. Five Sisters - When a great white oak gifts an old man a branch imbued with magic, he carves five wooden matryoshka dolls, “each smaller than the last.” The wooden dolls take on a life of their own as they frolic from one season to the next, bringing the old man and his wife a joy they had always longed for. Beautiful verse and stunning, traditional illustrations full of woodland creatures and playfully painted matryoshka dolls explore a tale of heartache, hope, and love.

Books About Non-traditional Families and Single-parent Families

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A Thousand Questions
Written by Saadia Faruqi
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
**Set against the backdrop of Karachi, Pakistan, Saadia Faruqi’s tender and honest middle grade novel tells the story of two girls navigating a summer of change and family upheaval with kind hearts, big dreams, and all the right questions.** Mimi is not thrilled to be spending her summer in Karachi, Pakistan, with grandparents she’s never met. Secretly, she wishes to find her long-absent father, and plans to write to him in her beautiful new journal. The cook’s daughter, Sakina, still hasn’t told her parents that she’ll be accepted to school only if she can improve her English test score—but then, how could her family possibly afford to lose the money she earns working with her Abba in a rich family’s kitchen? Although the girls seem totally incompatible at first, as the summer goes on, Sakina and Mimi realize that they have plenty in common—and that they each need the other to get what they want most.  **This relatable and empathetic story about two friends coming to understand each other will resonate with readers who loved _Other Words for Home_ and _Front Desk_. **
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Running Wild
Written by Lucy Jane Bledsoe
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
Twelve-year-old Willa and her twin brothers have survived with their father in the Alaskan wilderness for five years. But Willa knows this can't go on--they must escape. Since their mother died five years ago, Willa, her younger brothers, and her father have lived in the wilderness, in a log cabin they built. They survive on food they grow and animals they hunt. Every year they have struggled a little bit more to survive. Now, with winter approaching and her father becoming more reckless, Willa wonders if they will live to see spring. She also knows her father will never agree to leave. When her father goes on a hunting expedition by himself, Willa convinces her brothers that they must make the four-day journey down the Yukon River to Fort Yukon to get help. But first, they'll need to survive the treacherous trip...and all the while, their father is on their trail. Perfect for middle grade readers looking for adventure stories with strong female protagonists, Lucy Jane Bledsoe's Running Wild is a page-turner that hooks you from the beginning and doesn't let go.
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Martin McLean, Middle School Queen
Written by Alyssa Zaczek
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Seventh-grader Martin McLean has trouble expressing himself except at Mathletes competitions and now, as a female impersonator but his first-ever drag show falls on the same night as an important Mathletes tournament.
Honorable Mentions
Caterpillar Summer book
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Pie in the Sky book
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Finding Langston book
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Out of Place book
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  1. Caterpillar Summer - Cat and her brother Chicken have always had a very special bond. When Chicken has a “meltdown”, Cat’s the one who scratches his back and reads his favorite story. She’s always knows what he needs. Since their mom has had to work double-hard to keep their family afloat after their father passed away, Cat is the glue holding her family together. When a summer trip doesn’t go as planned, Cat and Chicken end up spending three weeks with grandparents they’ve never met. With their help, Cat can be a kid again for the first time in years, and the journey she takes shows that even the most broken relationships can be healed if people take the time to walk in one another’s shoes. Perfect for fans of Lynda Mullaly Hunt and Ali Benjamin, this special novel features an unforgettable voice and is brimming with heart.

  2. Pie in the Sky - A poignant, laugh-out-loud illustrated middle-grade novel about an eleven-year-old boy’s immigration experience, his annoying little brother, and their cake-baking hijinks! Sometimes life isn’t a piece of cake . . . When Jingwen moves to a new country, he feels like he’s landed on Mars. School is torture, making friends is impossible since he doesn’t speak English, and he’s often stuck looking after his (extremely irritating) little brother, Yanghao. To distract himself from the loneliness, Jingwen daydreams about making all the cakes on the menu of Pie in the Sky, the bakery his father had planned to open before he unexpectedly passed away. The only problem is his mother has laid down one major rule: the brothers are not to use the oven while she’s at work. As Jingwen and Yanghao bake elaborate cakes, they’ll have to cook up elaborate excuses to keep the cake making a secret from Mama. In her hilarious, emotional middle-grade debut, Remy Lai delivers a scrumptious combination of vibrant graphic art and pitch-perfect writing that will appeal to fans of Real Friends.

  3. Finding Langston - A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year, with 5 Starred Reviews, and a School Library Journal Best Book of 2018 When eleven-year-old Langston’s father moves them from their home in Alabama to Chicago’s Bronzeville district, it feels like he’s giving up everything he loves. It’s 1946. Langston’s mother has just died, and now they’re leaving the rest of his family and friends. He misses everything— Grandma’s Sunday suppers, the red dirt roads, and the magnolia trees his mother loved. In the city, they live in a small apartment surrounded by noise and chaos. It doesn’t feel like a new start, or a better life. At home he’s lonely, his father always busy at work; at school he’s bullied for being a country boy. But Langston’s new home has one fantastic thing. Unlike the whites-only library in Alabama, the Chicago Public Library welcomes everyone. There, hiding out after school, Langston discovers another Langston—a poet whom he learns inspired his mother enough to name her only son after him. Lesa Cline-Ransome, author of the Coretta Scott King Honor picture book Before She Was Harriet, has crafted a lyrical debut novel about one boy’s experiences during the Great Migration. Includes an author’s note about the historical context and her research. Winner of the 2019 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction A Junior Library Guild selection!

  4. Out of Place - When twelve-year-old Cove Bernstein becomes the target of a school-wide bullying campaign, she sets out to find a way to leave her home on Martha’s Vineyard for New York City, where her best friend lives. But Cove discovers that friends can appear in the unlikeliest places, and maybe home isn’t the worst place to be after all. Jennifer Blecher’s debut novel is a voice-driven story about bullying, friendship, and self-reliance that hits the sweet spot for fans of Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish and Erin Entrada Kelly’s You Go First. Twelve-year-old Cove Bernstein’s year has gone from bad to worse. First, her best friend, Nina, moved from Martha’s Vineyard to New York City. Then, without Nina around, Cove became the target of a bullying campaign at school. Escape seems impossible. But opportunities can appear when you least expect them. Cove’s visit to a secondhand clothing store leads her to a surprising chance to visit Nina, but only if she can win a coveted place in a kids-only design competition. Cove doesn’t know how to sew, but her friend at the retirement home, Anna, has promised to teach her. And things start really looking up when a new kid at school, Jack, begins appearing everywhere Cove goes. Then Cove makes a big mistake. One that could ruin every good thing that has happened to her this year. One that she doesn’t know how to undo. Jennifer Blecher’s accessible and beautifully written debut novel explores actions and consequences, loneliness, bullying, and finding your voice. This voice-driven friendship story is for fans of Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger and Jodi Kendall’s The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City. Includes black-and-white spot art throughout.

Books About Non-traditional Families and Love

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Daddy Honk Honk!
Written & illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
An arctic fox adopts a baby goose in this heartwarming read-aloud perfect for dads and their little ones When Aput the fox finds an abandoned goose egg, he has no idea what’s in store for him. He doesn’t know anything about babies and he certainly doesn’t know what to do when the gosling hatches and mistakes him for its daddy. So he decides to find the gosling a home. But with each page turn, Aput learns more about caring for a baby and, with a little help from his friends, he discovers what a baby needs most is love.
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Just Like a Mama
Written by Alice Faye Duncan & illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9
Celebrate the heart connection between adopted children and the forever families who welcome them with kindness, care, and unconditional love in this powerful picture book from the author of Honey Baby Sugar Child. Carol Olivia Clementine lives with Mama Rose. Mama Rose is everything—tender and sweet. She is also as stern and demanding as any good parent should be. In the midst of their happy home, Carol misses her mother and father. She longs to be with them. But until that time comes around, she learns to surrender to the love that is present. Mama Rose becomes her “home.” And Carol Olivia Clementine concludes that she loves Miss Rose, “just like a mama.” This sweet read-aloud is, on the surface, all about the everyday home life a caregiver creates for a young child: she teachers Clementine how to ride a bike, clean her room, tell time. A deeper look reveals the patience, intention, and care little ones receives in the arms of a mother whose blood is not her blood, but whose bond is so deep—and so unconditional—that it creates the most perfect condition for a child to feel safe, successful, and deeply loved.
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When I Grow Up
Written & illustrated by Paula Vasquez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
What is your family like? All of the children in Miss Ester’s class know what they want to be like when they grow up: their families! And each family is special and unique. Readers will be surprised and delighted to find that Johnny the duckling’s mom and dad have curly tails, stubby noses, and hooves. Johnny and his classmates make it easy for parents to show their little ones that there are many types of families, and they’re all made of love. Paula Vásquez’s fun illustrations and sweet writing style make this unique family story a must-have.
Honorable Mentions
Love Makes a Family book
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Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born book
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Ella Unleashed book
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The Ring Bearer book
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  1. Love Makes a Family - This fun, inclusive board book celebrates the one thing that makes every family a family . . . and that’s LOVE. Love is baking a special cake. Love is lending a helping hand. Love is reading one more book. In this exuberant board book, many different families are shown in happy activity, from an early-morning wake-up to a kiss before bed. Whether a child has two moms, two dads, one parent, or one of each, this simple preschool read-aloud demonstrates that what’s most important in each family’s life is the love the family members share.

  2. Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born - Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell, the New York Times bestselling team behind Today I Feel Silly and I’m Gonna Like Me, bring us a tender and funny picture book for every parent and child. Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born is a special celebration of the love and joy an adopted child creates for a family. In asking her parents to tell her again about the night of her birth, a young girl relives a cherished tale she knows by heart. Focusing on the significance of family and love, this a unique and beautiful story about adoption and the importance of a loving family. A beautiful adoption story, Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born also speaks to the universal childhood desire to know more about the excitement, awe, love, and sleeplessness that a new baby brings to a family. Tell me again about the night I was born. Tell me again how you would adopt me and be my parents. Tell me again about the first time you held me in your arms.

  3. Ella Unleashed - The Parent Trap meets Best in Show in this charming novel about a girl who must learn to make peace with the unpredictability of life. Ella Cohen was skeptical when her mom started dating Krishnan just a few months after her parents’ divorce. But two years later, she really likes having her new stepfather around. When she decides to enter a junior dog show, Krishnan even lets her start handling his dog, Elvis. She’s determined to become an expert handler, even after her first show ends in disaster. Unfortunately, some things are harder to control—like Ella’s dad, who has changed a lot since the divorce. He used to be laid back and fun, but now he hovers over her constantly, terrified she’s going to shatter into a million pieces if she so much as hints that everything in her life isn’t perfect. Ella is particularly upset that his animosity toward Krishnan keeps him from coming to watch her handle Elvis, especially when she wins a lottery spot in the National Dog Show in Philadelphia. When Ella’s best friends suggest she find her dad a date to the dog show, it seems like the perfect solution. If her dad has a new girlfriend, surely he won’t mind so much that Ella’s mom has a new husband. So Ella decides to play matchmaker, going so far as to create a fake online dating profile in order to find her dad his one true love. But it turns out people, much like dogs, aren’t always so easy to control, and Ella’s plan backfires at the worst possible moment. Can Ella manage to bring her divided life together in time for her moment in the spotlight?

  4. The Ring Bearer - Mama’s getting married, and Jackson has an important job to do! A story about love, weddings, and the special joy that is a blended family. Jackson’s mama is getting married, and he gets to be the ring bearer. But Jackson is worried . . . What if he trips? Or walks too slowly? Or drops the rings? And what about his new stepsister, Sophie? She’s supposed to be the flower girl, but Jackson’s not sure she’s taking her job as seriously as she should. In a celebration of blended families, this heartwarming story, stunningly illustrated by the award-winning Floyd Cooper, is a perfect gift for any child who’s nervous to walk down the aisle at a wedding, and shows kids that they can handle life’s big changes.

Want to see books about love?

Books About Non-traditional Families and Blended Families

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The Willoughbys Return
Written by Lois Lowry
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
**It's been 30 years and with rising temperatures melting icy mountain tops the previously frozen Willoughbys have thawed out and are about to return!** **From living legend and Newbery medalist Lois Lowry comes a hilarious sequel to _New York Times_ bestseller _The Willoughbys_ – soon to be an animated film starring Ricky Gervais, Maya Rudolph, Terry Crews, Martin Short, Jane Krakowski, and Sean Cullen on Netflix!**  Although they grew up as wretched orphans, the Willoughby siblings also became heirs to the the Melanoff candy company fortune. Everything has turned out just splendidly, except for one problem: Richie Willoughby, son of Timothy Willoughby, is an only child and is quite lonely. Winifred and Winston Poore have long admired the toys of their neighbor Richie Willoughby and finally befriend the mysterious boy next door. But just as Richie finally begins to make friends, selling sweets is made illegal, and the family's fortune is put in jeopardy. To make matters worse, Richie's horrible Willoughby grandparents—frozen atop a Swiss mountain thirty years ago—have thawed, remain in perfect health, and are making their way home again.  What is the point of being the reclusive son of a billionaire when your father is no longer a billionaire? What is the future without candy in it? And is there any escaping the odiousness of the Willoughbys? These are the profound questions with which Newbery medalist and ignominious author Lois Lowry grapples in _The Willoughbys Return_.
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A Field Guide to Getting Lost
Written & illustrated by Joy McCullough
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
A girl with a passion for science and a boy who dreams of writing fantasy novels must figure out how to get along now that their parents are dating in this lively, endearing novel. Sutton is having robot problems. Her mini-bot is supposed to be able to get through a maze in under a minute, but she must have gotten something wrong in the coding. Which is frustrating for a science-minded girl like Sutton—almost as frustrating as the fact that her mother probably won’t be home in time for Sutton’s tenth birthday. Luis spends his days writing thrilling stories about brave kids, but there’s only so much inspiration you can find when you’re stuck inside all day. He’s allergic to bees, afraid of dogs, and has an overprotective mom to boot. So Luis can only dream of daring adventures in the wild. Sutton and Luis couldn’t be more different from each other. Except now that their parents are dating, these two have to find some common ground. Will they be able to navigate their way down a path they never planned on exploring?
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Marianna May and Nursey
Written & illustrated by Tomie dePaola
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
In this reissue of Tomie dePaola’s charming 1983 classic Marianna May and Nursey, a family works together to make sure Marianna May can make the most of her summer. Marianna May’s Nursey likes to dress her in white, which means Marianna May isn’t allowed to roll in the grass, or make mud pies, or eat orange ice and strawberry ice cream, or paint pictures because her clothes could get messy. But Marianna May doesn’t want to waste her summer staying clean on the porch. Can she and her family figure out a way for her to have fun without worrying about her clothes?
Honorable Mentions
All the Ways Home book
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Juana and Lucas: Big Problemas book
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To Night Owl from Dogfish book
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Double Play book
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  1. All the Ways Home - Sometimes, home isn’t where you expect to find it. After losing his mom in a fatal car crash, Kaede Hirano—now living with a grandfather who is more stranger than family—developed anger issues and spent his last year of middle school acting out. Best-friendless and critically in danger repeating the seventh grade, Kaede is given a summer assignment: write an essay about what home means to him, which will be even tougher now that he’s on his way to Japan to reconnect with his estranged father and older half-brother. Still, if there’s a chance Kaede can finally build a new family from an old one, he’s willing to try. But building new relationships isn’t as easy as destroying his old ones, and one last desperate act will change the way Kaede sees everyone—including himself. This is a book about what home means to us—and that there are many different correct answers.

  2. Juana and Lucas: Big Problemas - When her mami meets someone new, Juana worries that everything will change in a humorous, heartwarming follow-up to the Pura Belpré Award-winning Juana & Lucas. Juana’s life is just about perfect. She lives in the beautiful city of Bogotá with her two most favorite people in the world: her mami and her dog, Lucas. Lately, though, things have become a little less perfect. Mami has a new hairdo and a new amigo named Luis with whom she has been spending a LOT of time. He is kind and teaches Juana about things like photography and jazz music, but sometimes Juana can’t help wishing things would go back to the way they were before. When Mami announces that she and Luis are getting married and that they will all be moving to a new casa, Juana is quite distraught. Lucky for her, though, some things will never change — like how much Mami loves her. Based on author-illustrator Juana Medina’s own childhood in Colombia, this joyful series is sure to resonate with readers of all ages.

  3. To Night Owl from Dogfish - Unhappy about being sent to the same summer camp after their fathers start dating, Bett and Avery, eleven, eventually begin scheming to get the couple back together after a break-up. Told entirely through text messages.

  4. Double Play - Allie loves baseball. It’s the one thing that has been consistent in her lately complicated life. Allie’s father left recently, and now Allie has a new family — her mother’s new girlfriend, Phyllis, and son Miles have moved in. It’s taking some adjustment, mostly because Miles seems determined to get under her skin. Things start looking up when Allie gets invited to join the boy’s baseball team as their new pitcher. But then Miles announces he’s quitting the boy’s team and tries out for Allie’s old team — a girl’s team! Allie is sure he’s doing it just to annoy her, but Miles insists that he just likes the girl’s style of play better. As Allie struggles to find her place on the boy’s team, she starts to see that Miles is just trying to fit in as well, and that it may be even harder for him than it has been for her.

Books About Non-traditional Families and Social Themes

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Bear Likes Jam
Written & illustrated by Ciara Gavin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
In their blended family, Mama Duck worries when Bear eats too much jam, but when the ducklings play a game with their vegetables, Bear starts to eat the strange green things on his plate.
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For Black Girls Like Me
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
I am a girl but most days I feel like a question mark. Makeda June Kirkland is eleven-years-old, adopted, and black. Her parents and big sister are white, and even though she loves her family very much, Makeda often feels left out. When Makeda's family moves from Maryland to New Mexico, she leaves behind her best friend, Lena- the only other adopted black girl she knows- for a new life. In New Mexico, everything is different. At home, Makeda's sister is too cool to hang out with her anymore and at school, she can't seem to find one true friend. Through it all, Makeda can't help wondering: What would it feel like to grow up with a family that looks like me? Through singing, dreaming, and writing secret messages back and forth with Lena, Makeda might just carve a small place for herself in the world.
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Apple Pie Promises
Written by Hillary Homzie
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Lily has lived with her mom since her parents got divorced several years ago, and her dad has recently remarried to a woman with a daughter her age named Hannah. But now, Lily's mom has gotten a once-in-a-lifetime work opportunity in Morocco and will be gone for a year, so Lily is moving in with her dad--and new stepmom and stepsister. It'll be as easy as apple pie, right?
Honorable Mentions
A Kind of Paradise book
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Simple Art Of Flying book
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So Done book
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Yes We Are book
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  1. A Kind of Paradise - Read the book that Ali Standish (author of The Ethan I Was Before) calls “a heartwarming story” and Melissa Roske (author of Kat Greene Comes Clean) calls “a joyful, heartfelt debut!” Thirteen-year-old Jamie Bunn made a mistake at the end of the school year. A big one. And every kid in her middle school knows all about it. Now she has to spend her summer vacation volunteering at the local library—as punishment. What a waste of a summer! Or so she thinks. A Kind of Paradise is an unforgettable story about the power of community, the power of the library, and the power of forgiveness.

  2. Simple Art Of Flying - Quirky characters, plucky humor, and a heartwarming message come together in this big-hearted debut novel about friendship and the true meaning of family. Sometimes flying means keeping your feet on the ground… Born in a dismal room in a pet store, Alastair the African grey parrot dreams of escape to bluer skies. He’d like nothing more than to fly away to a palm tree with his beloved sister, Aggie. But when Aggie is purchased by twelve-year-old Fritz, and Alastair is adopted by elderly dance-enthusiast and pie-baker Albertina Plopky, the future looks ready to crash-land. In-between anxiously plucking his feathers, eating a few books, and finding his own poetic voice, Alastair plots his way to a family reunion. But soon he’s forced to choose between the life he’s always dreamed of and admitting the truth: that sometimes, the bravest adventure is in letting go.

  3. So Done - When best friends Tai and Mila are reunited after a summer apart, their friendship threatens to combust from the pressure of secrets, middle school, and the looming dance auditions for a new talented-and-gifted program. Fans of Renée Watson’s Piecing Me Together will love this memorable story about a complex friendship between two very different African American girls—and the importance of speaking up. Jamila Phillips and Tai Johnson have been inseparable since they were toddlers, having grown up across the street from each other in Pirates Cove, a low-income housing project. As summer comes to an end, Tai can’t wait for Mila to return from spending a month with her aunt in the suburbs. But both girls are grappling with secrets, and when Mila returns she’s more focused on her upcoming dance auditions than hanging out with Tai. Paula Chase explores complex issues that affect many young teens, and So Done offers a powerful message about speaking up. Full of ballet, basketball, family, and daily life in Pirates Cove, this memorable novel is for fans of Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish and Jason Reynolds’s Ghost.

  4. Yes We Are - A boy confides in a friend that he doesn t know what to say when he’s teased for having two dads, and when kids say that they’re not a real family. In their conversation, his friend helps him see how her family (with a mom and a dad) isn’t all that different from his: they both have parents who love them, and they both love their parents. And it’s love that makes a family.

Books About Non-traditional Families and Animals

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Pup and Bear
Written by Kate Banks & illustrated by Naoko Stoop
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-7
This deeply emotional read-aloud about a lost wolf pup who is raised by a loving polar bear is sure to resonate with families - particularly non-traditional ones. You are not my mother, said the wolf pup. I am not your mother, said the polar bear, but I can cuddle you and keep you safe. Here is a picture book that celebrates differences and promotes kindness, sure to resonate with the many fans of the beloved classic, Mama Do You Love Me? During the ice melt that follows an Arctic winter, a wolf cub finds himself spinning out to sea on a sheet of ice. He awakes lost and alone to an unfamiliar smell: a polar bear. And while the polar bear is not the wolf's mother, she takes him on her back to her den, where she feeds him, keeps him warm, and does everything a mother would do. Time passes, the cub grows into a wolf, and soon it's time for him to venture out into the wide world alone. Years later, the now grown wolf comes upon a tiny lost polar bear cub--and the cycle begins again. With poetic prose this beautiful picture book about the love and kindness of a stranger is sure to touch a deep chord, particularly with parents and children who have found each other in unexpected ways.
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And Tango Makes Three
Written by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell & illustrated by Henry Cole
board book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
The heartwarming true story of two penguins who create a nontraditional family is now available in a sturdy board book edition. At the penguin house at the Central Park Zoo, two penguins named Roy and Silo were a little bit different from the others. But their desire for a family was the same. And with the help of a kindly zookeeper, Roy and Silo got the chance to welcome a baby penguin of their very own.
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Hop Up Wriggle Over
Written & illustrated by Elizabeth Honey
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
“Hop up! Wriggle over! Wakey-wakey: hungry!” Thus starts a full and busy day for an appealing animal family. Simple onomatopoeic words and irresistible illustrations capture familiar routines in a young read-aloud containing a warm and subtle reminder that families come in all shapes and sizes.
Honorable Mentions
Bruce's Big Move (Mother Bruce Series) book
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See You in the Cosmos book
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Wild Things book
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The Goose Egg book
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  1. Bruce's Big Move (Mother Bruce Series) - After the events of Hotel Bruce, our favorite curmudgeonly bear shares his home with not only his four geese, but three rowdy mice besides! Fed up with their shenanigans, Bruce sets off to find a rodent-free household. But as usual, nothing goes quite according to plan. . . A hilarious sequel for fans of the previous Bruce books, as well as a standalone discovery for new readers, Bruce’s next reluctant adventure is sure to keep kids giggling.

  2. See You in the Cosmos - 11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.

  3. Wild Things - Stubborn, self-reliant eleven-year-old Zoe, recently orphaned, is forced to move to the country to live with her strange and bad-tempered uncle. Zoe could care less that he’s a famous doctor and sculptor. All she knows is that he is impossible to understand. The only interesting thing on the farm is a feral cat who won’t let Zoe near. Together, Zoe and her uncle learn about trust and the strength of family ties. In this moving coming-of-age novel, Zoe comes to understand what it means to love and be loved, uncovers a long-kept secret, and finds family where she least expects it. Includes an interview with the author and a reading group guide. Named ALA Notable Children’s Book Award; Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s books of the Year; NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts; Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Book.

  4. The Goose Egg - From the author of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record pick Quackers comes the story of Henrietta the Elephant, whose life goes from calm to chaotic when a baby goose comes to stay.

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Books About Non-traditional Families and Divorce

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The Invisible String
Written by Patrice Karst & illustrated by Geoff Stevenson
Thoughts from The Goodfather
I love the lesson shared by this book. I especially love how well the story of the String works literally, like the "tugs" that we feel for each other.
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
This sweet story is such a sweet read to help little ones realize that they're connected to the ones they love, even when they're not nearby. Whether that's because a family member passed away, or maybe the child is starting their first day of school, this one will bring comfort and all the good feelings!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Picture book for children 4-8 years of age. A simple story that reminds children they are never truly alone. People who love each other are connected by an invisible string made of love.
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Two Homes
Written by Claire Masurel & illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
A young boy named Alex enjoys the homes of both of his parents who live apart but love Alex very much, in a comforting story about the reality of divorce. Reprint.
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Moon Shadow
Written & illustrated by Erin Downing
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thirteen-year-old Lucia Frank discovers that she can become the girl she’s always wanted to be with the help of a little “moon magic” in this charming novel about the value of friendship, family, and finding yourself. Lucia Frank has never had time for her mom’s “new age” nonsense. She doesn’t believe in any of that stuff. All she wants is to figure out how to get her best friend, Will, back and cope with her parents looming divorce. But then something strange happens on the night of her thirteenth birthday. When the eclipsed moon slips into the shadow of the earth, Lucia’s Shadow slips out. Now hidden in a moonstone, the Shadow waits for Lucia to sleep so it can come out to play. Lucia’s Shadow seems unlike her in almost every way: daring, outspoken, and unwilling to let anyone push her around. But it actually isn’t the anti-Lucia…in fact, her Shadow is very much like the person Lucia wishes she could be. At first, Lucia is eager to undo whatever magic happened on her birthday so life can get back to normal. But when she realizes her Shadow is doing and saying things she has only dreamed about, she wonders if maybe things aren’t all bad. With a little help from her Shadow, she’s turning into the kind of girl she’s always wanted to be.
Honorable Mentions
The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones book
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It's Not Your Fault, Koko Bear book
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Always Mom, Forever Dad book
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Emily's Blue Period book
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  1. The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones - “My secret life is filled with psychic vampires, wheelchair zombies, chain-rattlin ghosts, and a one-eyed cat. But they’re nothing compared to my real-life stalker: a sixth-grade girl named Kandi Kain. The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones is a terrifically funny and poignant story about a boy finding the courage to get to know the real characters all around him and to let them know him.”—

  2. It's Not Your Fault, Koko Bear - KoKo bear learns what divorce means, how to deal with changes and how to recognize and deal with feelings

  3. Always Mom, Forever Dad - Children whose parents no longer live together discover that although much has changed, and time spent with Mom is different than time spent with Dad, love is there no matter what.

  4. Emily's Blue Period - After her parents get divorced, Emily finds comfort in making and learning about art.

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